Overview This loop hike combines three trail segments originating from the Fraesfield Trailhead: Whiskey Bottle Trail (1.6 miles), Turpentine Trail (1.4 miles), and Black Hill Trail (1.7 miles). The loop described hugs the northeastern edge of Fraesfield Mountain and then winds through washes and seasonally lush vegetation. Allow about 3 hours.
Directions Start on Whiskey Bottle Trail, then onto Turpentine Trail, and finally onto Black Hill Trail.
Roundtrip Distance 4.7 miles
Elevation Gain 300 feet
FRAESFIELD – THREE TRAILS HIKE
Overview Start on the Black Hill trail then turn left onto the Dixileta trail, then left again on Whiskey Bottle trail, returning to the trailhead for about a 3+ mile round trip, with an elevation gain of less than 300 feet. This is a beautiful, easy hike with a small steady climb along well groomed soft trails with rolling hills and some striking rock formations. Allow about 2 hours.
Directions Black Hill Trail, then left onto Dixileta Trail, then left onto Whiskey Bottle Trail
Overview Take the Bootlegger Trail for 0.7 miles, then turn left on Saddlehorn Trail for 0.2 miles. Turn right onto Granite Mountain Loop Trail. Continue past the Scenic View noted above and follow the trail all the way around Granite Mountain. Along the way you will hike among incredible rock formations, a lush canyon and stately saguaros. Return to the trailhead via Saddlehorn and Bootlegger Trails for a round trip distance of 6.1 miles with total elevation change of 330 ft. Allow 3 – 3.5 hours.
Directions Bootlegger Trail, left onto Saddlehorn Trail, Right onto Granite Mountain Loop Trail.
Roundtrip Distance 6.1 miles
Elevation Gain 330 feet
GRANITE – SCENIC HIKE
Overview Bootlegger Trail to Granite Mountain Loop Trail to Scenic View. Start out on the Bootlegger Trail. Travel 1.3 miles to the intersection with Granite Mountain Loop Trail. Turn right and continue 0.2 miles to the Scenic View. The views across the Verde River Valley to the Mazatzal Mountains are stunning. Return to the trailhead via the same route, for a 3 mile round trip with less than 200 ft. of elevation change. Allow 2 hours.
Directions Bootlegger Trail to Granite Mountain Loop Trail to Scenic View
Overview The Jane Rau Trail provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the diverse plants, rock outcrops, and scenic views of the Brown’s Ranch area of the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The trail is named in honor of Jane Rau, a community activist, educator, preserve steward, and leader known for her work to establish Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The trail is located in an area of undulating topography and was constructed to meet the 2013 US Forest Service trail accessibility standards. Some of the grades along the trail are in the higher range of what is typical for accessible trails.
Directions From the accessible parking, it is roughly 400’ to the start of the Jane Rau Trail. The access route is comprised of sections of asphalt, concrete, and stabilized decomposed granite and meets accessibility standards. Once at the start of the trail, you will see a welcome station with a sign that displays a map of the trail. From this point, the Jane Rau Trail travels 300’ to the east to where the trail loop begins.
Trail Specifications Trail Surface: 100% of the trail surface is hard and surfaced with stabilized decomposed granite. The majority is surfaced with stabilized decomposed granite, with two very short, and one roughly 30’ trail bridge made of metal grating that meets accessibility standards. Typical Tread Width: The typical width of the trail tread is 80”, with a minimum width of 53”. Typical Grade: The average grade is 4.8%, with a max grade of 11.0%. Thirty seven percent of the trail is between 6% and 8.3%, and 279’ of the trail is between 9% and 11.0%. Typical Cross Slope: The typical cross slope is 2.5%, with a max of 6.0%. Thirty five percent of the trail has a cross slope of 4% to 6%.
Roundtrip Distance 0.4 miles
Elevation Gain Minimal – See Trail Specifications Above
BROWN’S RANCH – BROWN’S RANCH TRAIL
Overview A gentle out-and-back 3-mile hike on a very wide trail with occasional sandy stretches. This hike brings you to Brown’s Ranch, with many ranching structures still visible. This area was used for ranching from the later 1800s until the mid-1950s. Currently a site for field experiments to determine how best to restore a grazed area, you can find an excellent show of wildflowers in the spring.
Directions Follow the Brown’s Ranch trail north from the Brown’s Ranch trailhead, across the power line road, to the marked Brown’s Ranch junction. From the junction you can go a short distance to the right to see some of the remnants of the old ranch. Return the way you came.
Overview A gentle 3-mile out-and-back hike with optional .7-mile small loop, this interpretive geology trail starts at the trailhead and ends beside or on top of the 2nd largest landslide in Arizona! This hike takes you through a remote area of the Preserve with many beautiful rock formations and excellent wildflowers in the spring.
Directions At the south end of the parking area go east on the main trail. Stay straight on the Marcus Landslide trail past various junctions on the right and left. Past the last junction the Marcus Landslide trail will head south to the edge of the landslide near the gated entrance to McDowell Mountain Regional Park. If you stop here, return to the parking area the way you came. You also can continue on the Marcus Landslide trail west toward the mountain and then climb up onto the landslide itself. The trail makes a small loop on top of the landslide. When you have completed the loop, follow the trail down off the landslide and back to the parking area.
Roundtrip Distance 3.7 miles
Elevation Gain 300 feet
TOM’S THUMB – EAST END LOOP
Overview The Tom’s Thumb East End Loop is an extremely challenging, 11-mile loop that includes East End, Windgate Pass, and Tom’s Thumb trails with many very steep and loose sections and three major climbs. Provides exceptional views of dramatic rock formations in the McDowell Mountain range throughout the hike. Also, seldom-used sections of the hike offer great solitude, and the route crosses one of the few springs in the Preserve. Overall, you will experience about a 2500 foot elevation gain in this northern area of the McDowell Mountains, a section of Preserve that is slightly cooler and receives more rainfall. This climate difference leads to the establishment of a different variety of wildflowers, unique plant selection and more wildlife. Travelling uphill through a field of granite boulders, to a rolling upland nearly 4,000’ above sea level, you’ll find canyon wrens, white-throated swifts, and perhaps peregrine falcons.
Directions Follow the well-marked Tom’s Thumb trail south out of the Tom’s Thumb trailhead pavilion. Stay on the Tom’s Thumb trail as it climbs past various junctions on the right and left to a marked junction with the East End trail at a high saddle. Go straight on the Tom’s Thumb trail at the junction. Continue on the Tom’s Thumb trail first west and then south past various side trails until it ends at the Windgate Pass trail. Turn left onto the Windgate Pass trail. Follow it east over the pass to the junction with the Bell Pass trail. At this point the Windgate Pass trail ends, but continue straight east on the Windmill trail a short distance to the junction with the East End trail. Turn left onto the East End trail and climb it northward to its end at the Tom’s Thumb trail back at the high saddle. From there, continue north on the Tom’s Thumb trail back to the trailhead.
Roundtrip Distance 11.1 miles
Elevation Gain 2500 ft.
TOM’S THUMB – LOOKOUT VIEWPOINT
Overview A challenging 5.1-mile out-and-back hike with many very steep and loose sections and a total elevation gain of 1000 feet. The spur trail to the viewpoint is narrow and rocky but totally worth the effort for those hiking in Scottsdale! This is the best viewpoint in the McDowell Mountains, with extensive views east and west from the top of a cliff. The hike crosses the boundary between granite and metamorphic rock, with obvious differences in trail composition and nearby rock and spectacular rock formations all along the way. You will also see unusual vegetation and flowers you can see only at this higher elevation.
Directions Follow the Tom’s Thumb trail south out of the Tom’s Thumb trailhead pavilion. Stay on the Tom’s Thumb trail as it climbs past various junctions on the right and left to a marked junction with the East End trail at a high saddle. Go straight on the Tom’s Thumb trail at the junction. Continue on the Tom’s Thumb trail to the marked junction with the Lookout trail. Turn left onto the Lookout trail and follow it to the viewpoint at the end. Return the way you came.
The Bajada Nature Trail was constructed for the enjoyment of all — from young children to the elderly, and for those with physical challenges. The trail is a celebration of this particularly significant habitat, and an opportunity for people who have never dreamed they could enjoy an outdoor experience in the Preserve to experience the wonders of the desert. Children and seniors, visitors who are visually impaired and those who are hearing-impaired, people using wheelchairs and those with walkers will join their neighbors who regularly access the Preserve to experience the amenities this trail offers. The Bajada Nature Trail offers an innovative, interactive nature experience for those who want to learn more about Arizona’s unique Sonoran Desert.
Directions Follow the main trail from the parking area over the metal bridge and east to the sign for the Bajada Nature trail. Turn right onto the Bajada trail. The trail is laid out like a figure 8. Follow it in either direction back to the main trail and turn left to return to the parking area. Once at the start of the trail, you will see a welcome station with a sign that displays a map of the trail. From this point, the Bajada Trail is approximately 0.5 miles in total length, with a connector trail across the center of the loop. So, you can experience a shorter 0.25 mile long loop, or the longer 0.5 mile long loop. (Trail Surface: 100% of the trail surface is hard and surfaced with stabilized decomposed granite. Typical Tread Width: The typical width of the trail tread is 96”, with a minimum width of 72”. Typical Grade: The average grade is 3.0%. Typical Cross Slope: The typical cross slope is 1% or less.)
Roundtrip Distance 0.5 miles
Elevation Gain Pending
GATEWAY – LOOP
Overview A 4.5 mile loop that wanders up to a low saddle before winding back to the Gateway Trailhead. The length and grade changes make this a moderately difficult hike, but one worth trying. Make your way at an enjoyable pace while enjoying the wildflowers and wildlife. Kids with hiking experience may be able to enjoy this hike.
Directions Follow the main trail from the parking area to the Gateway Loop trail. Turn left to begin the loop. Turn right at the junction with the Windgate Pass trail. Follow the Gateway Loop trail over the Gateway Saddle viewpoint to the junction with the Bell Pass trail. Turn right and stay on the Gateway Loop trail all the way back to the Saguaro trail junction, bearing right at a number of trail junctions. Turn left at the Saguaro trail and go westward back to the parking area.
Roundtrip Distance 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain 650 feet
GATEWAY – HORSESHOE LOOP
OVERVIEW Three trails come together to provide an easy, enjoyable hike on a relatively flat trail that crosses a desert bajada with trees, saguaro and other cacti, and desert shrubs. A wide variety of desert birds can be seen along this hike that also provides great mountain views.
DIRECTIONS Walk from the parking area toward the Gateway entry structure. Just a short distance from the parking area, before reaching the structure, turn left onto the Desert Park trail. Follow the Desert park trail north to the Horseshoe trail and turn right. Follow the Horseshoe trail to the Gateway Loop trail and turn right. Follow the Gateway Loop trail to the Saguaro trail and turn right again. Follow the Saguaro trail west back to the entry structure and the parking area.
On this trail, you will learn about some interesting features of nature’s families in the Sonoran Desert. You will discover how different families and the members within each family depend on one another for their well-being and survival. This community of plants and animals, along with the geological features and local human history, make this a special area in Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
From the accessible parking, it is roughly 0.1 mile to the start of the Kovach Family Nature Trail. The access route is comprised of sections of asphalt, concrete, and stabilized decomposed granite and meets accessibility standards. Once at the start of the trail, you will see a welcome station with a sign that displays your choice of two loops, each of which are roughly 0.25 miles in length. (Trail Surface: 100% of the trail surface is hard. The majority is surfaced with stabilized decomposed granite, with some sections of concrete. There are two very short trail bridges made of metal grating that meets accessibility standards. There is also one concrete-surfaced access ramp that meets accessibility standards. Typical Tread Width: The typical width of the trail tread is 80”, with a minimum width of 53”. Typical Grade: The average grade is 3.0% and the maximum is 5.7% Typical Cross Slope: The typical cross slope is 1% or less.)
Roundtrip Distance 0.5 miles
Elevation Gain Pending
LOST DOG – RINGTAIL TRAIL
Overview This two-trail hike makes a 2.4 mile loop, and has many gradual ups and downs with little overall elevation change. Lost Dog Overlook has excellent views south and is an ancient tool-making site—some of the rock flakes are from prehistoric tool-making work! You can also enjoy great wildflowers in the spring. A gentle hike with a few moderate sections and several wash crossings makes this an interesting and enjoyable experience for most hikers. Kids with hiking experience would find this a relatively easy hike.
Directions Follow the Lost Dog Wash trail northward to the junction with the Ringtail trail. Turn right onto the Ringtail trail and follow it around a loop that ends at the Anasazi spur, where you should turn right. Go north to the Sunrise trail junction, turn left and then shortly left again onto the Lost Dog Wash trail back to the parking area.
Roundtrip Distance 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain 250 feet
LOST DOG – TALIESIN OVERLOOK
Overview A gentle out-and-back hike that crosses several small washes, Taliesin Overlook has extensive views northwest and looks down onto Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, his winter home and school. Taliesin is still active as a school of architecture. This 4 mile hike showcases a great variety of wildflowers when in season.Hike Directions: Follow the Lost Dog Wash trail northward to the sign for the Overlook. Turn left for the short walk to the Overlook. Return the way you came.
Directions Follow the Lost Dog Wash trail northward to the sign for the Overlook. Turn left for the short walk to the Overlook. Return the way you came.
Roundtrip Distance 4 miles
Elevation Gain 350 feet
LOST DOG – OLD JEEP TRAIL
Overview A moderate loop trail with some steeper, and very rocky sections, the Old Jeep Trail is little-used and feels very remote. On this 4-mile hike you will pass near several ancient tool-making sites and a WWII-era plane crash site.
Directions Hike Directions: Follow the Lost Dog Wash trail northward to the junction with the Old Jeep trail. Turn right onto the Old Jeep trail and follow it east then south to the Ringtail trail junction. Turn right onto the Ringtail trail and follow it to the Lost Dog Wash trail. Turn left onto the Lost Dog Wash trail back to the parking area.
Overview One of the Preserve’s more difficult hikes, Sunrise Trail East, from the Sunrise Trailhead, is a 4 mile out-and-back hike with many steep sections and over a 1,100 foot elevation change. Sunrise Peak is one of very few Preserve peaks with a trail to the top, from which you can see expansive views of the McDowell Mountains in all directions and beautiful granite formations. You will also see lots of spring wildflowers! This hike is excellent for fast exercise without the crowds.